As a mama who enjoys creating art with my children, but has little background in media and technique myself, I depend on the expertise of others to inspire and teach us. When such expertise does not require my family to jump in our minivan to rush off to a class nor to budget for steep per-person fees, all the better. So, I was delighted to be offered a chance to tap into the encouraging talent that Sharon Hofer offers with her online fine arts lessons for students of all ages.
Sometimes, Daddy has been able to join us, too!
Our First Project
We started with a Beginners Level project that my children picked called African Sunset. This project, like all the Beginners Level projects, could be completed in one sitting of about 45 minutes to an hour long and contains:
- video lessons (which are easy to follow along with)
- a complete supply list (which we adapted to what we had on hand, knowing that if we used high quality "correct" materials as Sharon suggests, we'd get more masterly looking masterpieces, but agreeing we would just use what we have for now)
- written tips (which were concise, helpful and easy to scroll down to)
- still images of lesson highlights (which we scrolled to more than once - so helpful!)
- a downloadable high-resolution image, supply list pdf, and link to purchase supplies
- multiple images of more advanced applications/reference art created by Sharon's other students
The instructions Sharon offered during the project video segments were clear, and my family was able to follow along, sometimes pausing the video lesson on our computer.
Most of our family met with success and had fun with this project.
Admittedly, though, we all had a little trouble getting the knack of the blown trees with this project, and one of our children - who is quite self-critical - was more "emotional" than confident as the project wound down. I do not fault Sharon's online teaching for this, though, and, in fact, consider the overall experience for that child a success despite the small outbursts that occurred.
Why? Personalities are personalities, and, even though said child had some unpleasant reactions during the lesson project, inspiration happened.
Yes, said child remained at the table when everyone else was done with their artwork (above) in order to continue creating her own art. To me, THAT is success.
Our Second Project
The next project my children selected was a mixed media one called Candlelight, which we also experienced as a family.
For it, we used pencils, oil pastels, and watercolors. Here are our results:
Our Third Project
For our third project, we decided to "skip ahead" from the Beginners Level to test out a Level 1 project in pencil called Sunflower.
As with most Level 1 and above projects, the Sunflower project was a multi-lesson one. It had six lessons, with the first few on beginning skills like contour drawing. (Most Level 1 to 5 projects have between three and seven lessons.)
Each of the different lessons of the project were set up much the same as the Beginners Level projects - with video segments, tips, reference art, etc. - and were meant to be completed in one sitting, with the entire project created over a number of sittings. A "lesson skills" video on value was also included.
My children and I, followed along with the lessons for the project in order.
However, on some days, we completed just a portion of a lesson, while on others, we complete a full lesson lesson or even two lessons in a row. To me, this sort of flexibility is a key element to why Creating a Masterpiece is excellent for homeschooling families like mine. For - I cannot speak for every homeschooling family, but I can say that for mine, - sometimes, there is less than an hour a day to dedicate to artistic pursuits and, sometimes, there is more.
Schedules, moods, other commitments, and just "life" demand flexibility, which Creating a Masterpiece offered. Some days, like when our heat was out, life got in the way of art (since hands got too cold to create), while other days, I happily was able to reply "Yes!" to please of "Can we do more? Can we?" For me, being able to stop part way through a project and easily pick up another time is important.
Considering our typical drawing skills, I'd say Creating a Masterpiece is an effective program. I don't think any of us would have gotten this close to sunflower-like drawings before.
Other Projects and One for You to Try FREE!
Obviously, there are still plenty more projects for us to enjoy with
the Creating a Masterpiece. I know we plan do some more and only wish we had enough time in our upcoming schedule to try a all of them.
I am excited to see what projects and media my children will ask for next.
There sure is a lot to choose from in Sharon's collection of Creating a Masterpiece projects.
- Acrylic Painting
- Soft Pastels
- Oil Pastels
- Block Printing
- Silk Dyeing
- Bombay Ink
- Conte Crayon
- Colored Pencil
- Copper Tooling
- Glass Mosaic
- Watercolor Pencils
- Balsa Carving
If you'd like to TRY A PROJECT FREE, Sharon offers a free sample project.
My Children's Opinions
After finishing our Sunflower project, I asked each of my children for heir reviews of Creating a Masterpiece.
My oldest said:
I like Masterpiece, because it really helps me to have something to draw. A lot of times, I just draw battle scenes or weaponry, because it is all I can think of, and this helps me to have new things to draw.
I also like the paintings. They are pretty nice. Of the two we did so far, I prefer the candle, because I always love how when you paint watercolor on oil pastel, the oil pastel resits the watercolor. I really like that.
My favorite project so far was either the teapot or the shell exercises. I can't decide. I liked them, because I really like drawing and they were some of the first drawing ones we did. I did not like the duck as much, because you had to draw it with one stroke, never taking you had off the paper. So, I did my own study, too.
The sunflowers was nice, too, but it took us day-ay-ay-ays. I prefer projects the just take one sitting. I know other artists take days, but I am different.
I have to echo my oldest's initial reason for liking the lessons - that they give him more to draw than battles and weapons.
I so love seeing him expand his repertoire. Plus, as much as he might prefer the one-sitting lessons, I am delighted that he stay engaged for the longer-term Sunflower project. He is my quick-draw, do-it-fast-and-move-on child, so it was satisfying to see him focus over time.
My youngest said:
I like it, but I don't like that the sunflower takes so long to make. (In the end, the sunflower) was okay.
What he did not mention was the laughter he had when creating art with us and the total focus on instruction that he sometimes maintained.
He also did not mention how, on first day we watched sunflower instructions, he drew the sunflower like a quick daisy picture on purpose, but as lessons continued, he erased what he'd drawn (on his own) and began anew, wanting to do a more "masterly" job. I loved seeing that (second-go) initiative.
My youngest also said:
On the candle, it was a little hard to make the center, but it was okay. I liked drawing the candle more than painting over it.
Then, he remembered:
I made a UFO in the sunset picture. Also, the trees were kind of hard to make. I also made a thing next to my tree to blast the UFO off.
I want to do more projects...
I'd say that Creating a Masterpiece has been a success with him so far, then, even if he doesn't exude in commentary about it. His concentration and effort during art time spoke for itself.
Then, there is my daughter. She is a tough one to please with things like this, for she loves to create, but is overly critical of herself and her skills and often emotionally charged. I had hoped using Creating a Masterpiece would help her experience a feeling of success, but, obviously, by her words, it did not always do this.
It made me sad to hear my daughter day:
It was okay, but it was hard. It made me feel like I was bad artist. Other people's art is so good.
It also made me ask how and why Creating a Masterpiece made her feel badly, because, honestly, the rest of us found Sharon's video lessons encouraging and our skills, when using them, growing. My daughter, however, sadly compared her own work to Sharon's, the posted art examples, and the rest of ours and believed she was coming up short. All too often, no matter what her siblings or I said - or what Sharon said on the videos - my daughter lacked confidence. (She even asked me not to take pictures of her doing the art.)
All that said, even if my daughter's confidence did not grow during the lessons, she persisted with them, and, obviously, despite her lack of confidence in her own skills, was inspired to create more.
As my daughter asserted herself:
After each time I made art with it, I did my own art, so I didn't feel upset.
In the lessons, I learned a little about techniques. I went over shading... After, I did my own things.
So, even though my daughter's experience was not all bright smiles an success while using Creating a Masterpiece so far, I still count her experience a success. I also believe that, over time, my daughter's confidence will grow to match - or even surpass - her creativity. Having Creating a Masterpiece on hand to teach skills to encourage her - and us all - to experiment with media will certainly help with that!
I Wholeheartedly Recommend Creating a Masterpiece
Four out of five folks in my home had a wholly positive experience with Creating a Masterpiece, and the fifth shared a couple laughs, strengthened some skills, and was inspired to create, too. So, I'd say the program is a success here. I am happy that we have this homeschool art curriculum available and would recommend it to other families. Step-by-step instructions for creating masterpieces with a variety of media at different levels in the convenience of your own home at ideal-for-you times make this online art program a family win!
Children (and adults!) of all ages enjoy Creating a Masterpiece. Currently, prices for this online art program from $39.99 per month for family access to 144+ lessons to $349 for the year. You can also purchase one level's worth of lessons from $119 on up. (One level typically includes about 8 or 9 projects.)
If you'd like to learn more, find Creating a Masterpiece on Facebook, check out how Sharon teaches, or TRY A PROJECT FREE.
Also see what one hundred Schoolhouse Review families created using Creating a Masterpiece.